Shooters Wood too big for Grand Annual given Cheltenham form
Course form and an ability to cope with both the undulations of Cheltenham and the stiff uphill finish are key starting points for punters doing their research in the hope of finding a Festival winner.
Bob’s Worth is one horse proven at Cheltenham having triumphed in all four starts at the course, including victories at the last two March Festivals.
This love of the track is sure to be factored into his price of 3/1 favourite to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
However, there is one other horse to still be unbeaten at Cheltenham and who has run at the track on more than two occasions.
The horse in question is Shooters Wood and is a far more appealing price to extend this winning streak at 14/1 to emerge victorious in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual.
If he is to win the Grand Annual, Shooters Wood will have to be successful off a career-high mark of 140, a mark off which he finished last of six behind Wishfull Thinking at Newbury last time, having previously won back-to-back Cheltenham contests before Christmas.
But on closer inspection, Shooters Wood was significantly wrong at the weights for this Newbury contest, getting only 2lb from the winner despite being there being a 22lb difference between the pair on official ratings.
The runner-up French Opera even received weight from Shooters Wood despite having a superior official rating.
Therefore, although Shooters Wood’s mark has remained the same for the Grand Annual, he doesn’t look to be at a disadvantage this time with the opposition, while being back on his favoured course where his never-say-die attitude reaps the biggest rewards.
Furthermore, Paul Nicholls’ horses are often well-backed late on for the race and seven of the last eight British-trained Grand Annual winners held previous course victories on their resumes.
It would be no surprise to see Shooters Wood sent off a single-figure price on the day, especially if Ruby Walsh takes the ride, as he has for the nine year-old’s last four starts.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.